After ITT Tech Suddenly Closes, Senator Carper calls on Congress to Protect Veteran Students and their GI Bill Benefits
“This is shameful. Congress must take steps to protect veterans and their families.”
Sep 08 2016
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a 23-year veteran of the Navy and Naval Reserves, called on Congress to take action to increase protections for veterans that enroll at for-profit schools and hold bad actors accountable. Earlier this week, ITT Tech announced that it would immediately shut down, leaving nearly 7,000 veterans without recourse to reclaim limited GI Bill benefits. A video of his speech can be found here, and his full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
“Mr. President, we often talk about the dream of a college education. A college education opens doors and leads to higher quality of life; a college education boosts wages; a college education is a first-class ticket to the middle class.
“We often talk about the young people in our communities who have made that dream a reality. They may not have come from much. Their parents saved what they could. They were the first in their family to go to college. They took out loans and they worked at night. They hit the books on the weekend and they graduated with honors. They got good-paying jobs and they raised a family. They plan to send their kids to college, too. That’s the dream we talk about. But for too many students across the country their dream of a college education has turned into a nightmare.
“Earlier this week, 45,000 college students who were enrolled at ITT Tech awoke and learned that their college was closed. Not for a snow day or a holiday, Mr. President. ITT Tech closed its doors for good after years of questionable business practices and financial woes. Many of these 45,000 students are living a nightmare this week. They’re scrambling to transfer to another school, hoping their credits will count elsewhere so they don’t have to start over. They’re scrambling to find out if they’re eligible for debt forgiveness on their student loans.
“I rise today to talk about a particular group that has been harmed by the sudden closure of ITT Tech: our nation’s veterans and their families. There were nearly 7,000 veterans enrolled at ITT Tech using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to finance their education. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, while generous, is a finite benefit—it provides up to 36 months of tuition and housing benefits for veterans, as well as members of their family. Student veterans at ITT Tech have no recourse to get those GI Bill tuition benefits back to put toward their studies at another college. And the housing allowance that our veteran families depend on will come to an abrupt halt because they are no longer enrolled in classes. They have been robbed of their time and their hard-earned benefits.
“Mr. President, when I think about the men and the women who volunteered to serve our country during a time of war, it is unfathomable to me that this is the position we would leave them—at a defunct college, without a plan to help them get their benefits back, and without a way to pay their rent or their mortgage next month. This is shameful. Enough is enough. Congress must act to protect our veterans. I don't believe that all for-profit schools are bad actors. Some do a good job. But the poor educational and employment outcomes for students across this sector are undeniable. The damage ITT Tech has inflicted upon students and taxpayers is undeniable.
“Let’s look at the facts. ITT Tech is facing lawsuits by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), and multiple state Attorneys General for illegal loan schemes, deceiving shareholders, and deceptive recruiting. ITT Tech’s accreditor recently found that the school ‘is not in compliance, and is unlikely to become in compliance’ with accrediting standards. ITT Tech’s closure leaves taxpayers on the hook for half a billion dollars in closed school loan discharges. Half. A. Billion. Dollars.
“Mr. President, ITT Tech is one of the top recipients of Post-9/11 GI Bill dollars since 2009. ITT Tech did not use this massive taxpayer investment to provide a high-quality education to our veterans. They used it for recruitment and advertising and, ultimately, for profit. ITT Tech failed veterans and taxpayers for years. And when they closed their doors this week, they left taxpayers and veterans in the lurch.
“This is shameful. Enough is enough.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs must now work closely with the Department of Education to ensure that ITT Tech’s student veterans have the resources and guidance they need to transfer and continue their studies at a high-quality institution of higher learning.
“Congress has work to do, too. I believe we have a particular responsibility to hold bad actors accountable and increase protections for veterans that plan on enrolling at for-profit schools that are under investigation and headed for bankruptcy. For-profit schools, like ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges, which also suddenly collapsed last year, target veterans for their generous benefits and exploit something called the 90/10 loophole that allows for-profit schools to be 100% reliant on federal funds. Congress can take meaningful steps to protect veterans and their families, and chief among them should be closing this dangerous loophole.
“Mr. President, the 90/10 loophole has directly led to this ongoing nightmare for the student veterans at Corinthian, at ITT Tech, and at countless other schools failing to deliver on the promise of a high-quality education. Mr. President, Congress must act. We must act to restore the dream of a high-quality college education for our nation’s veterans. It’s well past time to address this situation. Enough is enough. I yield the floor.”